As a psychoanalyst, I have been actively involved in international relations since 1979 and have visited many areas where wars and war-like situations existed just prior to my visits or even during my visits. I observed children with or without parents in such locations, places like South Ossetia and Kuwait. I also participated in projects designed to help children traumatized by wars or war-like conditions, and last year I was invited to a meeting in France to deliver a paper on the children of war with whom I had worked.
“What have we done to you – poor child?”- Sigmund Freud (1897)
There is an important irony in psychoanalysis that our book, Analysis of the Incest Trauma: Retrieval, Recovery, Renewal, attempts to address.
Although not all veterans are severely affected, a military career carries significant mental health risks, particularly at times of war when substantial numbers of psychiatric casualties are usual. Research from the last decade shows that certain mental health-related problems in the armed forces, particularly harmful alcohol use and post-deployment violent behaviour, are a serious problem. Those who have left the forces during the last decade show markedly higher rates of a number of mental health-related problems, particularly PTSD and harmful levels of drinking. These issues are of particular concern in relation to ‘Armed Forces Day’, which serves among other things as a recruitment opportunity for the armed forces. But what are the mental health implications for those who enlist, particularly the youngest recruits who are most vulnerable to these risks?
‘I hadn’t started out per se to ‘study’ serial murderers, now many years ago. I was doing neurological research on the NASA Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Increasingly I was becoming interested in neuropathology of primitive personalities. In biochemistry we go to the molecular structure of a compound to see what its chemical signature is composed of. What then was the signature of what may be the most primitive form of man; who represented man at his serially worst: A murderer who killed for seemingly pleasurable gain and who used power, control and dominance, as a way of torturing his victims before he murdered them. In those days the term ‘serial killer’ was not yet in the public sector as it resides today nor did the idea of a serial killer carry the current voyeuristic allure.
Co-editor of Practical Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury: A Guide for Working Clinicians.